Old Techniques Revisited

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I started a ‘train the trainer’ course in January. At today’s session, we looked into some listening activities and dictation techniques.

As a teacher, I have never liked doing dictation in my class. It’s something I neglected. The only one I use is the wall dictation AKA the running dictation for motivating quotes whenever I feel my classes need motivational quotes.

For me dictation is a very boring activity or it used to be boring and useless. I mean just to check spelling, I can try something else and this feeling is because of my primary school teacher. She used to give us texts to memorise at home and in class sometimes she read them and we dictated or sometimes we wrote the text by heart.That was the biggest challenge. Whenever I hear the word dictation, I remember a scene me as a kid  trying to write texts many times just as to learn how to spell the words.

However, today I realised  there are really cool dictation techniques and some of them are as old as hills, yet very effective and fun.

I’ll try to list the ones I like  now incase I forget how wonderful they really are.

1. Mixed ability dictations

Teacher divides the class into 3 according to students’ abilities. The lower level students get a text with multiple options for certain words or phrases, middle level students get a text with gaps and higher level ones get a blank page to fill when the teacher reads.

2. Running or wall dictation

Teacher posts some texts on the walls and divides her class into groups. A person from each group should go to the wall, try to memorise a part of the text and come to the desk to dictate to her friend. Everybody from the group should go to the wall in turns and come back with a piece of text to desk to be dictated. We did an alternative to this today which I liked very much and thought it can also be a very good pre-reading activity. Teacher posts the texts on the walls and gives handouts with questions to be answered. Students should go to the text read it and find the anwser and come to the desk and dictate it.

3. Half the story

Teacher starts reading a story and after a while stops and asks a question and wants the students to write their answers and then waits them to write then she continues dictating the story, pauses and asks an other question, students answer and the process continues until the story finishes. In the end, each student has a different story. The stories can be displayed on the walls or teacher can ask them to find which one is the best. I think this one is a great pre-writing activity for narratives. Before we ask the students to produce their own stories we can provide an example with variety of linking words and then may be we can talk about how it was paragraphed, which conjunctions or tenses were used.

4. Cheating dictation

This is so challenging. Teacher reads the story at a normal speed without any pause. Students shouldn’t ask any questions while the teacher reads. The teacher won’t stop and repeat any word. When the teacher finishes the story, students in groups try to fill in the missing parts that they couldn’t catch. Then the teacher reads slowly and students check their texts.

Recently I’ve read a great post at Teaching Village by Nick Jaworski. There are more examples on how you can use dictation in your lessons.